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American Predator

The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (421 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Instant New York Times Best Seller
Washington Post "10 Books to Read in July"
A Los Angeles Times “Seven Highly Anticipated Books for Summer Reading”
A USA Today “20 of the Season’s Hottest New Books”
A New York Post “25 Best Beach Reads of 2019 You Need to Pre-Order Now”  

"Maureen Callahan's deft reporting and stylish writing have created one of the all-time-great serial-killer books: sensitive, chilling, and completely impossible to put down." (Ada Calhoun, author of St. Marks Is Dead)

Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. Jeffrey Dahmer. The names of notorious serial killers are usually well-known; they echo in the news and in public consciousness. But most people have never heard of Israel Keyes, one of the most ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as "a force of pure evil", Keyes was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried "kill kits" - cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools - in remote locations across the country. Over the course of 14 years, Keyes would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home to Alaska, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. 

When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years - uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake - many of which remain unsolved to this day. 

American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes's life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and to the limitations of traditional law enforcement.

©2019 Maureen Callahan (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“A deep dive into the twisted life of Israel Keyes, ‘a new kind of monster’.... Serial killers often commit their crimes close to home, inside a comfort zone, but as the author documents throughout this compelling narrative, little about Keyes fit the conventional serial-killer mold...[Callahan] offers fascinating context about law enforcement investigative techniques and revelations about how a murderer can strike again and again without being detected for more than a decade.” (Kirkus Reviews)

American Predator is the scariest book I’ve ever read. No exaggeration - the book you hold is bone-chilling. Maureen Callahan explores the black heart of a new kind of American monster - a serial killer that confounded our most elite criminal profilers - and the race-against-time investigation to follow. This is the work of a journalist in her prime, telling you the story the FBI doesn’t want you to hear and delivering an unforgettable tale of evil that will haunt you. Mark my words: This modern true crime classic will stand with the likes of Jeff Guinn’s Manson, Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me, and Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.” (Susannah Cahalan, New York Times best-selling author of Brain on Fire)

“Investigative journalist Callahan provides a chilling true-crime narrative in this detailed study of Israel Keyes, whom she describes as ‘a new kind of monster, likely responsible for the greatest string of unsolved disappearances and murders in modern American history.’... Through Callahan’s access to many of the key players in law enforcement, she has produced the definitive account of a terrifying psychopath.” (Publishers Weekly

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator sounds like a robot.

it was difficult to pay attention to the text of the book because the narrator sounded like a robot

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, below average Narrator

I loved this book and I highly recommend it. my only wish is that it had a better Narrator. This Narrator's mens voice impressions all sound exactly the same, so when she is reading conversations its confusing and sounds like the same man talking to himself. Most Narrator's will slightly adjust the tone or speech pattern, where as this one has 2 voices, a Male impression and her own voice. Like I said she wasn't horrible but that just bugged me. Overall great story and dibs to the author for getting us more details on Israel Keyes.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great research, distracting narration

The “man voice” was distracting and unnecessary in what could have been a great telling of a thorough research job on Keyes. The narration made it very hard to focus on the story.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

terrible narration

the story was interesting but the narration was way off. the "man voice" was insufferable.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • JD
  • 07-16-19

Scary, dark horrific monster tale, with some flaws

I'd never heard of the subject of this book (whose name I'd rather not further glorify). But clearly, he is one of the scariest and most evil people who's ever walked the earth. He doesn't fit the mold of what we've been told of most psychopaths or serial killers (a doting father who was concerned about the effects of his crimes on his daughter?). Truly chilling, and estimates of his victims are probably significantly understated (he said he was active for 14 years, almost nonstop, but a "mere" 11 victims? Seems unlikely). Honestly the kind of book that makes you want to buy an alarm system for your home. It also teaches you that compliance with violent criminals is a VERY questionable tactic. NEVER get in a car. Better to be shot running away than dragged off to God knows what! Fight, run, and yell! (and hopefully shoot or stab if you are armed).

Some flaws in the book. The narrator is insufferable with her cartoonish male voice. Considering that most of the figures in the book are male, and so much of the book is from actual transcripts, a male reader would have been more appropriate. But this female reader affected the same dumb male voice that almost seemed satirical and anti-male. It was a distraction. We are PAYING for this reading, so freaking do it well!

Also, it was just kind of weird how the book was sourced. I know it was unavoidable, but unlike some other true crime, this was mostly leaked and on background source material, with a definite point of view and axes to grind. I realize that since the investigating agencies were all pretty much non responsive, and you had detectives that couldn't be quoted in the first person (except for interview transcripts) for legal or career reasons, the author was limited in her approach. The transcripts were an interesting perspective; if only they read with a real male voices instead of the same dumb female male impersonator voice!

A nitpick, I could tell the author was a big city, probably liberal girl who'd never been around a gun or a firearms enthusiast or hunter in her life. She made it sound like the fact that the subject of the book was a gun enthusiast and hunter or someone who raised and killed his own livestock somehow selected him for being a serial killer, when 99.99% of gun owners and hunters and farmers are decent law abiding people. I'd imagine the average southern or rural reader will be rolling their eyes at some of the breathless implications Callahan makes about guns and hunting (I'm not a hunter, grew up in a big city, but even I laughed at this). Also her comments about Black Talon cartridges was a real howler. They're just hollow points, not "cop killer" or "mass shooter" bullets.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A personal plea...

Please, please, for the love of all that is good in this world, Ms Amy Landon, in any future audiobooks you record, PLEASE -- stop doing your "man voice." This would be a fine example of a better-than-average true crime book about a subject that has long needed a comprehensive storyline like this, but oh my gawd. This would be an example of a slightly poorer-than-average narration: robotic, upspeak-ridden, but generally forgivable. But the man voice. Lord almighty, the man voice. This is a book about a man. Most of the investigators are men. There is nothing wrong with a female narrator reading a female author's words. Until the reader in question starts putting on a deep, cartoony, buffoonish manspeak affectation for every male who speaks in the book. It's more than distracting. It was almost funny the first time..... this isn't a comedy book. It got unfunny really quickly. I really should have bought the Kindle version.

36 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Detailed, methodical but slow

The first thing to mention is the narration. The narrator does unfortunately affect a ridiculous voice when speaking as male characters. This is an annoyance, but not a fatal one, as other reviewers may have felt. However, she does so with little or no distinction between characters, doing essentially the same dopey guy voice for all the men. Also, some questionable syntax by the author perhaps leads the narrator to speak awkwardly, as if reading a page where a line finishes after a carriage return. I would expect that an adept professional, regardless of gender, could navigate these issues better.

The other point is that the subtitle is a bit misleading as the "hunt" is only contained in the early parts of the book, with most of the book detailing interviews with, and providing background information about, Keyes. And additionally, the book contains (perhaps justified) sometimes vicious attacks on the competence of a federal prosecutor injecting himself into interrogations. Those may have been the best parts of the book, actually.

All in all, a decent enough effort. (BTW, speeding up a little may help with the voice issue).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The story is good but....

The performance makes this an uninteresting book because you can see the video for this story on tv. It's an interesting true crime book and I can't give a serial killer book 5 stars because it's hard to love what you're hearing about but it's super well researched and good. But the voice, and the man voice, ugh. Last true crime book I'll bother with. Give me a good old fashioned psychothriller instead with a great voice to listen to and it'll be 5 stars all around.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Scary Stuff - They Walk Among You

Chilling account the Israel Keys, the serial killer that roamed the entire United States, from Alaska to Florida and everywhere in between.

They say at any given time there are 50 plus serial killers in the United States alone. They are the most difficult to find as they normally have no prior relationships with the victims.

Watch out.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Decent book, aweful narrator.

American Predator is a decent book. Not as in depth a look at Keyes as it could have been, but I definitely appreciated the access the the inner workings of the interviews that the author supplied.

The narrator however... It wasn't even the annoying "man" voice that so many others have complained of. For me it was the constant, repeated, mispronunciation of every single town and city. Not the unbelievable butchering of Makah.